Are you ready for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge?

Well, April is only days away.  The Theme Reveal has come and gone.  Whether you are new to the challenge or have been doing it since the beginning, I hope you’ll find something helpful here.  If you don’t have time to do the challenge yourself, please visit some of the A to Zers and cheer them on!

You may be surprised to learn that as well as preparing for the A to Z Challenge I set up a new blog, Sue’s words and pictures.  Please click on the link, which opens in a new tab.

The A to Z team have been posting helpful advice about taking part in the challenge for a while now.  Be ready to welcome their comments.  This old post is also helpful.

Following their advice I’ve set up a word file with a handy way of linking back to this blog from any comments I make on other people’s blogs.

In case you missed it, it looks like this:

<a href=http://myblogaddress/>MyBlog</a>

Just edit the parts in blue italics and it should help people find your blog.

Have you made a note of the blog after yours on the sign-up list so that you can follow it?

Did the Theme Reveal attract you to other blogs?  Are they on a list or have you followed them?

And how are you attracting people to your A to Z posts?  I am using the category Blogging from A to Z in April and including the tags AtoZ, blogging, April, challenge alongside tags related to the content of my posts.

On Twitter I need to schedule a Tweet for each post and add the hashtag #AtoZChallenge.  Twitter and Facebook are both platforms where AtoZers may connect and communicate.  Google+ is another.  My posts are automatically publicised to Google+, but to share them with the A to Z community there requires a bit of time and effort.  It is also possible to share them to the A to Z Challenge’s Facebook page.

Have you found the badges and banners?  They are bright and cheerful and can be found here.

In case you are new to WordPress this is how I add the letter badges to my posts.  I have copied the image addresses to my draft posts.  Then I change to the text editor and add some html, which puts the image in my post.  I have not found out how to put text alongside the image by this method.  Copying the image into my media library might make this easier to do.  An example of my code for the first post is :

<img src=”badgeaddress” alt=”Letter A” width=”200″ height=”200″ align=”alignleft”/</

Replace badgeaddress with the badge link.
Finally, have fun!


Not the numbers

It isn’t about the numbers…

In the past I have invited readers to examine the stats for my blogs.  I regularly check these, and how my numbers are going on Facebook (friends, page likes, insights) and Twitter (followers, unfollowers and impressions on Twitter analytics).

When I began Sue’s considered trifles I had a notebook in which I wrote the title of each post and the date it was published.  It made it easy to keep track of the number of posts.  After each 39 posts I had a summary post.  Now I am only posting links to earlier posts, I am not counting or even keeping a list of the titles.  I have confused myself and the post-counter on WordPress by accidentally publishing at least one post before I intended and having had to restore its status to draft before scheduling it for the correct month.

I am aware that many people use apps to follow Tweeps (Twitter people), who are likely to follow them back or to unfollow those who didn’t (follow them back).  I only use an app to find out who unfollowed me.  There is no point taking unfollows personally, although there is plenty of advice about how not to annoy people on Twitter.

Those readers, who look at my posts on computers rather than phones, may have noticed that I have now linked my Twitter to this blog.  I have been learning how it works.  Apparently Tweets I send to the Twitterverse rather than to individuals appear in my preview stream.  Those sent to individuals do not.  (It is possible to change these settings.)

At present the widget, which looks after this for me, is located well down the sidebar of my blog.  It is quite likely that people will not find it if they are only reading a single post.DSC_0014~2 DSC_0016~2 DSC_0017~2 DSC_0021~2

I am also learning what the camera on my phone is capable of.  Sometimes I share the results here or on Twitter.  And people like pictures.  So I am going to add a few to this post. They have already appeared on Twitter.

Because I watch my stats closely, I am aware that I have had extra views as a direct result of having a post featured by post40bloggers.  Belonging to groups on Facebook also allows me to promote posts from time to time.  I find that Twitter leads to more referrals than my Facebook page does. Now that may have something to do with numbers.

So, why is it not about the numbers?

It is my hope that something I write in every post will encourage or inform (or even amuse) at least one reader.  Although it appears fairly random, how people find my posts (categories and tags help here, but I am careful not to use so many that my posts are excluded from the WordPress Reader) I believe that God is able to direct people to the reading matter they will enjoy or find helpful.  I have found that the saying, Build it and they will come, does not apply to information on the internet.  Rather we have to build it and decorate it with banners and flashing lights.  (I don’t like anything which flashes on a web-page I am trying to read, so you won’t find any real flashing lights here.)

WordPress stresses numbers.  There are summaries of numbers of blogs, numbers of posts, and numbers of anything else, which can be measured easily.  It serves to remind ordinary bloggers how big the internet is and how unlikely people are to spot our blogs, unless we make ourselves known by commenting on or liking other blogs, responding to comments on our own blogs and finding ways of letting potential readers know that we exist.  Each blog post is just a drop in the ocean of online information.  And, in case you are wondering, the photos are not of “the ocean”, but the Irish Sea.

Writers sow seeds.   There is a picture in the Bible of how messages are spread by more than one person.  St Paul wrote, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)



Some of my trifles

I have been tempted to write in response to a few challenges recently.  As I haven’t been making anything in the craft line for a few weeks, I have decided to let you read the results of two of these challenges.

The first gauntlet was thrown down at the September meeting of the writers’ group I joined earlier this year.  The theme was finding peace.  I wrote about that on the way home from London on the train.  When I read my piece out to five other people this month I did not feel that I had written enough and extemporised at the end.  Perhaps I’ll revise it before I share it more widely.

It was at the ladies’ Bible study that the next writing assignment was given out.  This time it was, “Based on the passage from Philippians, write a prayer!”

I wrote one from my heart and completed it before the leader said another word.

Lord God, Our heavenly Father, we pray for our families.
We ask your forgiveness for the times we have failed them by our actions, our words and by what we have failed to do or say.
We ask that you will bring reconciliation where it is needed and that all our families and friends will be drawn to you by your Holy Spirit and will learn what is your good and perfect will.
We pray in the name of our saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Twitter verse has featured here before.  The next invitation was delivered by Tweet – to write a poem about hope and share it on Facebook.  The first four words were given in the Tweet I responded to.  I pondered subconsciously for a few hours and then wrote a verse.  Not exactly a Twitter verse, although it is just about short enough to tweet.  The hashtag is #sharethehope

For me Hope is solid as a Rock;
Not a forlorn hope based on whim,
But a safe haven or dock
Based on knowing and trusting Him.